How a dancing man holds lessons for Business Intelligence

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Daniel Senter

I recently attended a two day seminar with JCI UK hearing inspirational speakers and business lectures. One of the speakers shared a video with us, highlighting the power of creating a following, giving an example of the 'first follower'.

This got me thinking about business intelligence (BI) and the challenges it present when changing the types and ways in which information is shared and displayed within a business and how to create buy-in to adopt it.

Who are my first followers? Do I have any and if not why not?

To put some of these thoughts into context, let me share a video with you to help understand my thought process:


The shirtless dancing guy is a great example of good leadership and the importance of creating followers. In this video, Sivers demonstrates how true leaders are able to nurture their first followers. This ensures that the take up or growth of what the leader is trying to drive is not only dependent upon the founder but others around him believe in it too.

In BI, particularly a large organization where you are looking to make a step change in the way the business manages processes and consumes information finding followers is a fundamental element to the success of the project. I've seen many projects deliver amazing results in terms of changes to reporting business performance by introducing balanced scorecard, dashboard reporting and visual management. Without creating a movement within the business to embrace and adopt the new reports or methods the projects soon fail, however good or bad they may have been.

This effect also works the other way, where poor deployments and implementations of dashboards or reporting services have taken off in the business even though to a purist BI geek they may seem flawed. Why? Because that first guy out there dancing around shirtless attracted a follower, a follower who would then attract others to give the project momentum and legitimacy with others...

This concept has really made me think about the impact of gaining a follower can have on a new report or dashboard or change to the way information is used in the business - like big data or mobile BI. I believe you need to answer the following questions:

  • Who will your follower be?
  • How will you nurture and encourage that follower?

Finally, you need to make sure you have a follower who will be credible enough to attract other followers. Because without this, the leader promoting BI within the business runs the risk of having to give up... As with no one taking up or using the new offerings, the project will certainly fail.

So have you got your followers identified?